Nathaniel Bacon (January, 1647 -October, 1676) was a wealthy Jamestown farmer and leader of the Bacon Rebellion which lasted until his death in 1676. Bacon was a relative of the scientist Francis Bacon.
Bacon was born in Suffolk, England on January, 1647. After being educated at Cambridge and Gray's Inn, he immigrated to North America because of a dispute he had with his wife's family. On arrival he purchased two estates along the James River in Virgina with the help of his wealthy father. At Jamestown he was appointed member of the governor's council.
Virgina farmers on the James River who were disrupted with their royal governors rule, due to Indian and economic problems, created a rebellion in 1676. The farmers asked Bacon to lead the rebellion (Main Article: Bacon's Rebellion) and he accepted. When Bacon arrived in Jamestown with 500 men, Sir William Berkley, the royal governor, arrested him on account of treason. The arrest was mainly and act of showing authority and soon Bacon was soon freed.
Bacon demanded that the Governor live up to its failure in dealing with the Indians, and authorization to raise an army. When the governor eventually fled Jamestown for the eastern shore, Bacon took over. He rampaged the capital for three months and plundered the royal governors estates. However, he died of "Bloodie Flux" and "Lousey Disease" in October, 1676, and the rebellion clasped.
Although Bacon called the Berkley and his friends 'sponges' who sucked up the Public Treasure', his rule also lacked accountability. Historians have come to understand the Rebellion not as glorious fight against tyranny but instead a power struggle between two stubborn, selfish leaders.
- A History of the American People, Poul Johnson, pg. 76